The wonderful mind of consultant Brent Toderian

News 100 yellowBy Staff

December 29th, 2017



It has been a couple of years since the city invited Brent Toderian into town to advise the city manager and the Director of Planning on the steps to take to turn Burlington into the city he thought everyone wanted it to be.

Toderian Brent - blue shirt

Brent Toderian

Toderian is beloved by much of the planning department – that sentiment didn’t manage to spread to the citizens of the city. On balance – views are mixed.

This is not an occasion to dig deep into the impact Toderian is having on the city but it is an opportunity to get a look at the thinking he does from time to time.

It might help to understand where some of the core thinking within transportation is coming from.


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8 comments to The wonderful mind of consultant Brent Toderian

  • Joe Gaetan

    This is what a ”Special to the Globe and Mail”, by Frances Bula published in 2012 had to say about Mr. Toderian: “The termination comes after an almost six-year tenure by Mr. Toderian, where he provoked a steady stream of complaints from key local developers and architects”,” But for years, development-community members unhappy with him had been saying he didn’t give clear messages about the planning department’s direction, with the result that projects floundered and stalled as people tried to figure out what he and the department really wanted.”,” Others blamed his leadership for the steady rise of neighbourhood anti-development groups, while another group of critics was concerned about what they said was a lack of overall vision for the city.” Sound Familiar!!
    To be fair though,“But others in the city welcomed his style, saying Mr. Toderian treated developers equally, rather than favouring a few, that he demonstrated constantly that urban design was a priority, and that he delegated more authority to his staff instead of making all the decisions himself.”
    So there you have it certainly not an “A” plus guy but not an “F” either.
    Now, take a look at what has happened to Burlington since he was hired to strategically guide our city and see it that answers the question as to his worth?

    • Stephen White

      Interesting. Now, the $64,000 question to the Mayor should be this: “Prior to the City contracting with Mr. Toderian to provide consulting services were you and your officials such as Mr.Ridge aware of his previous track record, what kind of vetting occurred prior to contracting with him, and what measures did you undertake to ensure that the experiences in Vancouver were not repeated here in Burlington”?

      If the City had been doing its due diligence it would not have engaged with Mr. Toderian without putting in place proper controls and oversight.

  • Penny


    This is exactly what ECoB ( Engaged Citizens of Burlington) keeps asking. Please visit our website We feel that we need a”Made in Burlington Solution”. What works in Vancouver or Portland does not in Burlington.

    We ask that all concerned residents go onto our website, join our mailing this and become part of the Solution

  • Josie

    I have seen Brent’s tweeter feed and I could not agree with you more Greg!

    Toderian has been saying since the early spring of 2016 how the city’s intensification plan changes “not only the direction of the city, but also the makeup and attitudes and culture of city hall’ (posted April 26, 2016 on Niagara at Large). Our Mayor Goldring has nothing but praise for Toderian. I wonder if this is why our former chief planner Mary Lour Tanner went from thinking how important it was not to build “bunch of point towers; what we really want to build is a city with a great street and great buildings.. streets with trees, and landscaping wide enough for two people to walk on the sidewalk holding hands”(Inside Halton, Feb. 10, 2016). What happened to that vision? How did Tanner go from that to planning for nothing but bunch of towers on Brant Street?
    I am surprised to see Toderian is still involved with our city hall as it was my understanding he was brought here for a short term consultation only? Yes, he is a former Vancouver chief planner (meaning he was fired from that job), but that brings up another question – what do Burlington and Vancouver have in common? Hmmm, not much, I’d say! Time for a quick reality check?

  • Phillip

    Toderian is no visionary, just a slick salesman selling Toderian koolaid. He has a “canned message” that he sells to delusional greenies, the true believers like Goldring, Tanner, and Ridge and after collecting his loot from the City of Burlington, he moves along to the next willing buyer.

  • Stephen White

    Unfortunately for Mr. Toderian urban planning isn’t a game of SimCity.

    We aren’t all sitting around cross-legged on the floor with Lego blocks re-creating a new urban landscape where there are no cars, everyone walks or bikes to their destinations, and we all live in 30 storey highrises and shop downstairs. Urban planning is about balancing competing needs and interests and building workable coalitions. It’s about providing a range of opportunities and addressing real problems with practical, workable solutions. It’s about preserving the history and character of existing neighbourhoods while creating viable new developments that combine quality of design with visual appeal, safety and accessibility. Finally, it’s about understanding the constraints and limitations, whether these be financial, public opinion, geography, weather, etc., and adjusting accordingly. Most of all, it’s about engaging with the public in such a way that they feel their needs, concerns and interests are properly respected and valued.

    What Mr. Toderian and his groupies at City Hall have managed to do through the Grow Bold initiative, the Official Plan, and their Mobility Hubs, is drive a wedge through this community a mile wide and ten miles deep. They presumed, quite arrogantly, to know what was best for this City and its citizens, and then go about superimposing their will on the rest of us. What they unleashed was an almost instantaneous backlash from residents who, in this forum and others, have raised very real concerns and questions regarding the “Grand Vision”.

    In the minds of many of us Toderian’s philosophy is neither grand nor visionary, but rather, an exercise in naivete and optics without much realism and common sense.

  • Hans

    A quick look outside today provides all the evidence needed that his ideas are completely impractical, if not dangerous.

  • Brent himself is probably sane.

    The problem is he seems to have spawned this never ending virtue signaling sub group. Checkout his twitter feed and it’s just people bouncing around a deep dislike for cars.

    No road is congested enough, no place is too miserable to bike, no walk is too long, no place should not have public transit, no place should have strip malls.

    I think everyone knows if you ignore people’s preferences and time – yes everyone could conceivably not use a car. However some people would rather not spend 3 hours a day traveling around. Some obviously are getting a lot out of riding the bus – just check out Brent’s feed. Some people love biking. However everyone in the world is not you.

    That’s where this whole thing has gone to far. Instead of adding in biking and transit options – it’s become about taking away others ability to use cars.

    Bulldozing strip malls in Aldershot is leaving us with an un-walkable village of nothing save offices. However this urbanism has becomes such a religion – designers don’t care if they hurt the actual area – they just want to be seen as pure to their peers.

    With the New Official Plan, they want to take this Burlington wide. It’s doesn’t work, but the point is not to make it actually work for people. It’s to advance the “cause”.

    Just go look at Brent’s twitter feed.